Qazigund : Goods tructs stranded on closed Srinagar-Jammu National Highway during heavy snowfall,at Qazigund in South Kashmir on Thursday. PTI Photo (PTI2_11_2016_000221A)
Jammu, Feb 2: With improvement in weather conditions, the authorities have stepped up efforts to restore the strategically important Jammu-Srinagar National Highway which has remained closed for vehicular traffic since Thursday due to multiple landslides along the Banihal-Ramban stretch, officials said.
“Fresh landslides occurred overnight at several places including Anokhi fall, Digdole and Panthiyal. Road clearance operation is going on in full swing to ensure early restoration of traffic on the highway,” they added.
The 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir to the rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Thursday following heavy snowfall and rains which triggered multiple landslides blocking the road at various places on the Banihal-Ramban stretch, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded.
The official said the snow clearance operation at Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir, was completed late on Friday evening, following which over 100 stranded Kashmir-bound tankers carrying petroleum products were allowed to proceed towards their destination.
“The blockade due to landslides at various places including Nachlana, Gangroo, Seri and Battery Cheshma were also cleared, while efforts are on to clear the blockade at other paces,” the official said, “the road is likely to be made ready for traffic by late afternoon”.
However, he said only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their destinations after the completion of the ongoing clearance operation.
The weatherman said dry conditions are likely to prevail till February 5, however, a spell of rain and snow has been predicted under the influence of western disturbance from February 5 evening.
“Weather is likely to remain mainly dry throughout the state till February 5 (evening). It is likely be be followed by another spell of snow and rain till February 9,” a spokesman of the MET department said.
Meanwhile, the sun shone brightly in Jammu after remaining hidden behind clouds over the past couple of days, providing much needed relief to the people from the cold conditions.
Amid intermittent rains, the day temperature in the city Friday plummeted to 11.6 degrees Celsius, which is 9.3 degrees below normal during this part of the season, the spokesman said adding the night temperature also fell, settling at 6.5 degrees Celsius.
The snow-bound Banihal emerged as the coldest place in Jammu region with minimum temperature slipping to -5.0 degrees Celsius followed by Bhaderwah town of Doda district at -4.0 degrees Celsius and the highway township of Batote at -2.5 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said.
He said Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, recorded a low of 5.0 degrees Celsius. Over 100 stranded tankers carrying petroleum products for Kashmir crossed the Jawahar Tunnel late on Friday, Alok Kumar, inspector general of Police (IGP) traffic told reporters.
Nearly 3,000 vehicles, mostly trucks, have been parked at safer places in Qazigund-Banihal stretch of the highway.
Closure of the highway has resulted in shortages of essential supplies in the landlocked valley. Unscrupulous traders are using it to sell commodities at exorbitant prices.